13. Classification Paragraphs

Classification Paragraphs

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

The word classification comes from the word class—meaning a group of things that all have one important element in common. From this word we have the verb to classify, which means “to gather into categories, segments, methods, types, or kinds according to a single basic principle of division”. Based on this meaning, classification is defined as a logical way of thinking that enables us to organize a large number of ideas or items, their use and/or function into categories (groups). By means of classification, large amounts of materials will be more manageable and easier to understand or analyze. For instance, sciences are classified into two main groups: natural and social; and each of the groups are further classified into some subgroups. Another example is that to make a book easier to find, librarian classify books based on certain system.

A classification paragraph is the one used to clearly define something and place it in a group according to a specific basis or rule so that it only fits in one group. In other words, a classification paragraph items are grouped into categories grouped according to shared characteristics. In general, information could be classified into more than one category, but a classification paragraph must stick to a basis of classification. In the paragraph, the topic sentence comprises of two parts: the topic and the basis of classification. This classification basis constitutes the controlling idea; it controls how the writer approaches the subject. Look at the following simple but interesting and popular example.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers–unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns wood-pulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books–a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many–every one of them dogeared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled from front to back. (This man owns books.)”

(From: Adler, “How to Mark a Book.” The Saturday Review of Literature, July 6, 1941).

Different person may classify book owners into different numbers of group based on different basis or criteria. In the paragraph above, Adler classifies book owners (the topic) into three groups. This classification is acceptable it is based the criterion of whether the persons read the books they own or not (controlling idea). In the following example, the writer classifies paraphrases based on their uses.

Paraphrasing is used for different purposes. Some paraphrases will be designated to support already existing evidence. Others will reinforce argumentation against evidence. Still others will help to develop existing arguments and provide back-up for any conclusion drawn in the course of writing. Depending on the function, paraphrases will be introduced in accordance with their unique context. Quotations require yet another approach. They are not self-expressive because every quotation can signify a number of different things in various contexts. It is both the introduction and the commentary that follows it which decides about its context and the ultimate meaning of a given citation in an essay. Paraphrasing quotations – changing the original words or sense is not allowed.

(From: http://daria-przybyla.suite101.com/example-of-a-classification-paragraph)

To produce good classification paragraphs, the following step-by-step approach suggested by Scarry & Scarry (2011: 489-490) is worth applying.

  1. After you have selected a topic, decide on the basis for your classification.
  2. Determine the categories for your classification. Give each category an identifying title or name. Be as creative as possible. You may want to take a humorous tone. Remember, no item should belong in more than one group, and your classification should be complete.
  3. Write your topic sentence. Use one of the terms (such as group or type) that signal a classification.
  4. Write at least one or two sentences for each group, remembering that each group should be given approximately equal space and importance.
  5. Write a concluding statement. If you have not already indicated a useful purpose for the classification, do so in the conclusion.
  6. On a separate piece of paper or on the computer, copy your sentences into standard paragraph form. Before printing, read the paragraph again to check for any changes that may be needed.
  7. Do a final reading once you have printed the paragraph to check for any errors or omissions.

To achieve coherence in classification paragraphs, the following transitional words and phrases are important to use.

  • can be divided
  • can be classified
  • can be categorized
  • the first/second/third kind/type,
  • the first/second third category
  • the last category

To see how these expressions are used look at the following sample paragraphs.

Rock Music

There are three different types of rock music, alternative rock, classic rock, and hard rock, also known as metal. Alternative rock features a steady bass drum laying down the beat, with easy flowing guitar riffs over the top. The bass line is toned town, and the lyrics are sung with intensity an authority. Depending on the song, the guitars can either be acoustic guitars or electric guitars. Classic rock combines a steady driving bass drum sound, with high snare overtones, steady and often repeating guitar riffs, and an intensive bass line. The guitars are more often than not all electric guitars, and distortion is rarely used. The lyrics are sung with style and enthusiasm. Hard rock, or metal, features a hard rolling bass drum with an abundant amount of cymbal work. This style of rock uses several electric guitars with heavy distortion to bring a very intense sound. A hard, intense, driving bass line rounds out the style. The lyrics aren’t really sung so much as screamed. It doesn’t matter what your preference is, each different style of rock music is unique on its own.

 (from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)

Daters Beware

Men can be categorized by the way they treat women while dating into three groups: a social addict, a content lover, or a keeper. The first type, a social addict, is the type of man who is constantly late and everything is on his time. Social addicts are particularly self absorbed. For your birthday this type of dater will give you a gift such as a necklace, so that everybody can notice it. When it comes down to emotions and feelings, a social addict will say whatever he assume you want to hear at any given moment. The second type of dater, a content lover, is a guy who will come and go as he pleases. These men just seem to be in attendance but not involved. When he is with you, he will not open up and share his thoughts. A content lover will forget your birthday all together. Lastly there is the keeper who will not keep you waiting; in fact, he always plans ahead and involves you in the decision making. To them, your birthday is tremendously important. They will give you time for your friends and family; in addition, they always make unique plans for the two of you later that evening. Unlike the other types of daters, the keeper will attempt to be 100% in touch with their feelings towards you and are willing to talk about them. Men’s dating styles differ; nonetheless, it all comes down to what behavior you are in the mood for.

(from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)

Types of Friends

Friends can be classified according to their honesty, loyalty, the type that fits you into their schedule, or the type that finds time for you when they need something. An honest friend tells you the truth even if it’s not always what you want to hear. In the long run, that honest friend may have saved you from embarrassment or possibly rejection. They give you constructive criticism overall. The loyal friend is the type of friend that will be there for you through the thick and the thin. They don’t care how good or bad you may look one day; they are sensitive to your feelings, they respect you and the other people in your life, and most of all they will never let you down when times are hard. They may be what you call a best friend. The third group, the person that fits you into their schedule, is the type of person that is always on the go. They barely have time for themselves let alone another person. More than likely they will not be there for you when you need them most, because they are so wrapped up in their busy, hectic life. Then you have the self-absorbent type of “friend” that finds time for you only when they need something. This type of person isn’t what you would call a friend. This person may always be extremely nice to you because they know that if are nice to you then they will more than likely get what they want. They will call you every once in awhile when it is almost time for them to use that person again. It may be for a ride to work, home, or they just want somebody to hangout with because they have no other friends. If the person that is being used is smart they will eventually realize that they are getting used and will stop being there for that person.

(from: http://english120.pbworks.com/w/page/)

7 thoughts on “13. Classification Paragraphs

  1. Magazines

    Basically, magazines are divided into three categories which are consumer, farm and business. Each of them talks about only what is relevant to its own category. The first category is Consumer Magazines: magazines which can be seen everywhere. For examples, magazines which concentrate on hot gossips about actors or actress, music, DIY(Do It Yourself) arts and crafts, cooking, teen life, car racing and many more. Overall, consumer magazines are those that keep you up to date and entertained through variety of topics. Consumer magazines are also known as popular magazines and can be purchased at local stores or got monthly through subscriptions. The second category is Farm Magazines: These publications are based on news or articles on farming and agriculture. The consumers of these magazines are usually manufacturers or farmers. These magazines are not always available in local stores. However, doing some research online can get you to their subscription pages. The last category is Business Magazines: These are the trade publications and journals. The readers of trade versions are store owners and industry professionals like distributors. For examples, international business news, stock markets news, management, small business, technology, and much more. So, if you would like to look for information on magazines, buy or read magazines that suit your needs.

  2. Students

    Students can be grouped into active and passive students. Active students are more involved in their pursuit for academic excellence. For instance, they attend lectures daily, read books in the library for several hours, being involved in extra-curricular activities, have group studies to find out what information from other students, do what is necessary to get a highly valuable scholarship or take part in debate team. Whereas, passive students usually low-motivated and not encouraged to contribute to class discussions by voicing their opinions and supporting their answers. All they could do is to answer the question and do classroom assignment. They usually indifferent to all activities and information provided by lectures. In contrast, active student take an active part in discussion and problem-based tasks, and they are more curious and inquisitive. Active students have personalities and they like rushing things, hate delays and like being perfectionists. Passive students have personalities and relax, chill with no sense of urgency. Which type of student are you? Only you who know the answer.

  3. Students
    Students can be categorized into three groups: diligence, detail and procrastination. The first category is the ones who diligently do school work, homework and even projects on time. Any teachers would be delightful to have these students. However, these students don’t pay attention to quality of their work. They don’t discuss questions as teachers’ expected. They don’t put much effort on gathering information. Even they don’t show impressive project results. Everything is just average, minimum teachers’ expectation. They prefer to follow what teachers say without having more curiosity. The second category is detail. Such kind of students really takes everything seriously. To answer a question, they could discuss from some points of views. They are eager to explore more information to complete their schoolwork as well as homework. They give the maximum effort to show great and spectacular projects. They are the ones who look critical by asking so many questions in classroom. The last category is procrastination. These students act normal as other students. They give attention in class and notice any assignments given. Somehow, after school is over, they just don’t remember anything what they did or need to do. There is a time they remember the assignment, but then they think they still have time to do it. As a result, they tend to do it in very last minutes. Mostly they need extra time to finish projects. Even so, the result is not always bad though. Which one we are, we need to know ourselves better so we can improve ourselves to get better result.

  4. Magazines
    Basically magazines can be classified by gender, age, and lifestyle. Magazines based on gender means that magazines tend to be read either by male or female. Men enjoy read magazines about cars, motorcycles, and sports. While women prefer fashions, houses and designs. It doesn’t mean men don’t read design magazines. It’s just how people see a magazine through gender. Magazine can be classified by age. It’s clear that teen magazines are different from lady magazines. The cover style must be adjusted to age. Teen magazines suppose to look cheerful and energetic, while lady magazines look elegant and mature. The content of magazines could be the same, but it will be different discussion or point of view. For example, there is health section. In this section the issue discussed in teen magazines is totally different in lady magazines. Teen magazines probably discuss about pimples and lady magazines discuss about wrinkle. Magazines classified by lifestyle means it is published by people’s interests. There are gardening, design interior, health, technology, sports, fashion, economic, politics, nature, and many more. People who really love certain sport, like biking, can buy bike magazines to get more references about stylish gears, great tracks to go, or any community activities. The ones who like gardening can get more information about taking care of certain plants, buying gardening equipment, or knowing gardening tips. Magazines are still good information reading for people.

  5. Dear Mr. Parlin
    Below are my Classification Paragraphs assignments:

    Group A: Classifying Everyday Items – Shoes
    For women, shoes are not only functions as footwear, but also has become part of the interface. There are 8 types of women’s shoes. The first type is Open Toe Shoes, these open toes so your toes as your thumb and index finger visible and the back is generally closed. Secondly is the Pump Shoes, resembles the toe of a pumpkin, half-round shape. Thirdly Sling Back Shoes, this type is characterized by a rope wrapped around the ankle. Fourthly Wedge Heel, having the right shoes with the same size from front to back and blend with the soles of shoes. Fifthly Kitten Heel, with low-heeled shoes. Sixthly is Stiletto with a pointy front and right of the high pointy. The Seventh type is Slippers with the back open. Eighthly is Boots that covered a whole. Boots there are only up to the ankle, calf and half there are up to knee. The last is a Sport (sneakers) that are commonly used during exercise. By knowing the types of shoes, the women can customize the appearance with shoes that fit.

    Group B: Classifying Types of People – Teachers
    Teachers can be divided into two types. The first teacher is a cognitive teacher is a very knowledgeable. They knew all kinds of formulas, talkative, a lot of advise, unfortunately very little listening. The second teacher is a creative teacher, the teacher smiles a lot more creative, but the hand and body active. Every time he starts to talk by listening, and when explaining something, he’s always looking for the props, whether it’s a pen cap, plastic bottle of mineral water, paper folding, stick, or whatever. Cognitive teachers know a lot, while creative teachers do more.


  6. Dear all attendees of Writing 2,
    Write a paragraph on each of the following groups of topic. Feel free to choose the topic you like most in each group. Write each paragraph in 80-120 words.

    Group A: Classifying Everyday Items
    1. Houses
    2. Shoes
    3. Cell phones
    4. Magazines

    Group B: Classifying Types of People
    1. Politicians
    2. Teachers
    3. Students
    4. Difficult Persons

    Good luck!

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